Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Revd John Woodger Responds to Allegations of Anti-Semitism

Dear Bishop,

I have been appalled to read of accusations of anti-Semitism being levelled against Stephen Sizer by the British Board of Deputies. I have known, and worked with Stephen on pilgrimages and issues relating to Israel/Palestine for over 25 years, and am fully convinced that there is not an ounce of anti-Semitism in him.

Stephen is a scholar, speaker and author on the issue of Israel/Palestine and related subjects such as political Zionism. He has done a great service to inform Christians from a Biblical perspective, and has been invited to address audiences that few Christians would even consider going to. He has made enemies in the process, but that always happens in pursuit of truth.

Stephen is caught in the trap of speaking against Israel, and this of course is anathema to both Jewish and Christian Zionists, who equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. You and I know that that is a false equation, and mere ignorance. It's quite simple, you can't speak against Israel and get away with it. Stephen has been bold enough to do it - and thank God for that!

I have heard Stephen speaking on many occasions, as well as discussions with Jews and Zionists. He is always very gracious towards his opponents and has a clear understanding of their point of view - he is never aggressive. I trust you have had the opportunity to see his contribution to Channel 4's '4 Thought - Are Jews still persecuted in Britain today?

I hope you will continue to support Stephen, not only because his accusers are wrong, but because he is a faithful parish priest in your Diocese, who does not deserve this treatment. In no way is he anti-Semitic, and you must know that.

John Woodger

The Rev John Woodger, MTh

See also letters from:

Right Revd Riah Abo El Assal, 13th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Lampeter University
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Patron, Friends of Sabeel UK
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Revd Phil Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder of the Amos Trust
Dr Ghada Karmi, Exeter University
Manfred W. Kohl, Ambassador Overseas Council
Venerable Michael Lawson, Chairman, Church of England Evangelical Council
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Exeter University
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, National Director, Friends of Sabeel North America
Revd John Woodger, Retired vicar of St Mary's Watford

Anthony Julius is chairman of the London Consortium and a Visiting Professor at Birbeck College, University of London. His book Trials of the Diaspora, is a magisterial 800 page examination of the history of Anti-Semitism in England. In the final chapter which deals with the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Julius writes,

"He has recently explained, however, that he 'categorically reject[s] any position that threatens the territorial integrity of Israel as a sovereign nation.... Stephen Sizer's work has the merit of clearly setting out the issues that divide the two sides, and furthermore doing so without the rancour or sheer nastiness of tone typical of the polemics in the conflict." (p.571)
It is ironic that much of the "rancour or sheer nastiness" comes from Zionists unable to distinguish between two.

And see also these articles from other sources:

Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Jeremiah's Underpants
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Dr Sizer is cleared
Church of England Newspaper: Sizer complaint
Church Times:  Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times:  Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite’
Jewish Chronicle:  Sizer: I am ready to meet the Board of Deputies any time